non-invasive native groundcovers ...do they exist?

satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)April 4, 2008

and do they exist in evergreen form?

my reason for asking:

* we don't want to put down landscaping mat

* we don't want to use mulch anymore, it's getting expensive as the beds continue to get cut out farther and farther, reducing the grass as much as possible

* we don't want to use anything that will grow out of control and require trimming and supervision like 'creeping fig' and 'vinca'

* i'm tired of spending hours in the spring removing chickweed, fescue, indian strawberry and similar pests from the sedums we planted in mid-'07

we would like to find something native, if possible, preferrably something evergreen that will fill in but not run over into other areas (controlled spread), that will choke out weeds and is relatively drought-tolerant.

it would be great to have something that would get to full fill within 12-18 months - something that has an end size of, say...18"-36" diameter, so we don't need to buy 100-150 plants?

"showy" is preferred.

"okay to walk on occasionally" would be great also.

the area we're looking to cover will be partial sun only, fairly well drained, and its nearest friends would be paper trees, fatia, oak-leaf hydrangeas, several diff't ninebark, fig tree, grancy greybard, a few ferns, witch hazel and some heucheras.

i know i'm probably looking for the "perfect plant" that doesn't exist, but ... a gardener has gotta try, right?

suggestions are greatly appreciated!

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esh_ga

Partridgeberry has worked well for me. Mitchella repens is the scientific name.

I'll try to think of others.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 6:37PM
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groundcover

I love Epimediums, don't know if there are natives, but they spread slowly have great spring flowers in yellows, pinks, white and then some. Great leaves, many of which turn nice colours in the fall. They have a lovely mounding growth habit. The ones I have are carefree and very drought tolerant once established.

Tried to find a link that did them justice to no avail.. Google images will open the door.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 10:07PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

You are still going to have to weed, and you are still going to have to buy a LOT of plants. Think about the fact that you will not be investing in mulch in the near future, because you are investing in the plants. Consider that the bonus and put your money into the plants. Hoe everything well before you plant to help get rid of the extra sedums etc.

Consider Georgia Blue Veronica along with the other choices above.

GGG

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 10:22PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

The best way to get rid of weeds is to plant something else. Any ground cover that is going to cover a large space is by nature going to be invasive, unless you plan on buying many many plants. Have you considered planting simple shrubbery that is low maintenance? That would take up room and prevent weeds from growing.

I'm also trying to eliminate as much mulch as possible, but I'm doing that by planting shrubs and roses and other perennials. I do have dwarf mondo grass in the front of one of my rose beds, and it does quite nicely. It does spread, but does so slowly. You can help it by separating the clumps and replanting the extra ones along the bed. It only needs to be cut back in late winter and once established, it's fairly drought and sun tolerant, although it prefers light shade. I still get some weeds in it, but it's pretty easy to pick them out and the thicker the mondo gets, the fewer weeds I get.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 9:32AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

Thanks for the suggestions!

We don't like grasses in the yard, especially after helping our neighbor get rid of some really, really invasive grass that Urban Gardener planted in their yard this past year. We have a lot of shrubs in the area already, and are looking for something more low-lying (less than 2"-8" tall) to fill in. I've never really had a thing for mondo grasses, but we all have our loves :)

Between the three spreaders/clumpers above (veronica, epimediums, partridgeberry) we should be able to work something out to cover at least 60-70% of the area in question, which would mean 60-70% less weeding, and something to keep the ferns company during the winter when many of the other things have died back. I don't mind spending $$, I'm totally fine with that, but ... I don't want something that is a tiny 6" clump at full size, else we will be seriously spending a thousand dollars buying 200+ plants to fill the bed.

Are the three aforementioned species relatively safe to plant near perrenials that die back down to the ground every year and re-sprout, or will they choke those out?

If it is not safe, what kind of spacing should I be trying to maintain between these and other plants? (i.e. would the average spread diameter + 6" buffer be adequate?)

I am normally really wary of non-native species, seems like most of the common ones are too invasive for my liking, which is why I had to ask. Search was turning up a ton of results, but I couldn't seem to refine it enough to find meaty info.

Thanks again for the advice!

BTW - Epimedium warleyense and versicolor flowers both look amazing! (see pics halfway down page)

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 10:57AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

btw - totally off-topic, but what i thought was fatsia finally started popping out leaves today...and after asking at the plant ID forum, i've found i am now the proud owner of several mayapples!!!! :) really excited to see a native flowering plant coming up!

pics can be found here if you're interested...and the area surrounding the mayapples pictured there is also where i plan on planting some of the groundcover - it's part of the north side of my house which we're trying to have a "woodland walk" type of feel with.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 12:44PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Junipers. I have lots of them and shore juniper is weed free.
Naturally you have to keep them weed free while they fill in but they are foolproof, if boring.
Not all varieties make a tight matt though. Shore will and so will blue chip, my favorite.
Parsoni is too tall for me to want to go into to weed.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 2:27PM
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groundcover

Hello again,

Was poking around outside, ginger (Hexastylis). There are native varieties.

Wish I had mayapple!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 3:23PM
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mk87

Yeah, I have to put my vote in for Shore Juniper as well. It's not necessary something you'd want to walk on a lot, but if you had to, at least the needles are soft. And, even though the plant tag may say it's a "medium" or even "slow" grower, I have not found that to be true. If the bed is even worked a LITTLE bit, that stuff will just take off. Not invasively, just nice and thick.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 10:10PM
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mayland

have you thought about using evergreen ferns as your groundcover? i am thinking about doing this in a wooded area as i want a little more height than a typical low-growing groundcover.
I'm not sure which of the evergreen ferns are native.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 11:27AM
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satellitehead(z8 ATL Metro)

we currently have several different species of ferns in the landscape on that side of the house - i'll try to take a picture tonight or the next day so everyone can better see what i'm up against, and i'll try to give another picture, numbered, to identify the existing plants. it's all starting 2nd and 3rd year landscaping, so none of it is fully grown in, and some things - like one of my oak-leaf hydrangeas, had half of its growth die over the winter (pretty upset about that)

right now, we have what looks like a couple of very large leatherleaf ferns (i think, previous owner planted 'em), one or two curly or boston fern (unsure), at least one or two lady ferns and we had three or four smaller maidenhair ferns but appear to have lost them during the drought (or over the winter). i actually really love ferns, and the combination of those with the three paper trees and four oakleaf hydrangeas really do wonders to cover the ground, but don't provide much except "cool looking" bark and stems in the winter, and allows chickweed and others to run rampant in the transition between winter and spring.

i wish i like any of the juniper varieties, but i find all i've seen unattractive. they also grow taller than what i'm looking for, and don't fit the general theme of my landscape on that side of the yard.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 12:23PM
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jeff_al

for more ideas, the nursery linked below specializes in groundcovers.
if you see something you like, you may be able to find it locally.
i assume they have native plants but did not go through their list.

Here is a link that might be useful: stepables

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 1:28PM
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esh_ga

Christmas fern is a very common fern in the metro area. That may be some of what you already have.

Here is a link that might be useful: Christmas fern

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 2:30PM
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